There’s a reason a seemingly simple squash side dish made the cover of Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs’s new cookbook. The recipe delivers cayenne-dusted squash wedges with gorgeous bronzed edges, candied interiors and an intriguing partner: a nutty, nontraditional sage-hazelnut pesto. The recipe is one of 75 dishes the visionaries behind Food52.com share in their latest cookbook. Our first experience cooking from the book hints at many great meals in our future: After test-driving the squash, we couldn’t restrain ourselves from eating the wedges straight from the bowl--with our fingers.
Caramelized Squash Wedges with Sage-Hazelnut Pesto
Recipe adapted from "The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2: Seasonal Recipes from Our Kitchens to Yours" by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs (William Morrow Cookbooks)
Caramelized Butternut Squash
2 butternut squashes (about 3½ pounds total)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh sage
1 garlic clove, smashed
⅓ cup hazelnuts, toasted
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons crumbled ricotta salata cheese
1. Make the squash: Place a rack in the lowest position in the oven and preheat the oven to 500°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Cut each squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Peel the halves, then cut each piece of squash in half crosswise where the slender part curves out to the bulge. Cut the squash into 1-inch wedges and put the wedges in a large bowl.
3. Toss the squash with the olive oil, sugar, salt and cayenne pepper. Arrange the wedges in a single layer, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Roast the squash for 10 minutes or until caramelized on the bottom. Remove the squash from the oven and flip over. Roast for 10 minutes longer or until caramelized on the second side and cooked through.
4. Meanwhile, make the pesto: In a small saucepan set over very low heat, warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the sage and garlic just until the oil bubbles, about 2 minutes. Pour the oil and sage into a small bowl; reserve the garlic clove.
5. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the hazelnuts with the reserved garlic clove and pulse until finely chopped. Add the mixture to the bowl with the oil and sage. Add the ricotta salata and 1 to 2 tablespoons additional olive oil to the bowl and stir until combined. Season with salt and set aside.
6. Transfer the roasted squash to a large bowl and toss with the pesto to taste. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
It's the details that count! Try these tips
For a more rustic pesto, blend the ingredients using a mortar and pestle, like this one from Williams-Sonoma.
Our favorite hazelnuts to use in this recipe come from Oregon-based Freddy Guys Hazelnuts and are available via mail order nationwide.